The International Space Station on Tuesday offered 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine and hundreds of fragments of vines that spent a year in orbit around the world in the name of science.
The wine and vines – and thousands of pounds of other equipment and research, including mice – will be scattered aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule on Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa.
Bottles of French wine ̵
None of the bottles will be open until the end of February. That’s when Space Cargo Unlimited, the company behind the experiments, will open a bottle or two for a tasting in Bordeaux by some of France’s best connoisseurs. Months of chemical testing followed. Researchers are eager to see how space has changed sedimentation and bubbles.
Agricultural science was the main goal, said Nicolas Gaume, CEO and co-founder of the company, although he acknowledged that it would be fun to try the wine.
“Our goal is to tackle the decision of how we will have agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and capable of feeding humanity, and we believe that space is key,” said Gaum of Bordeaux.
With climate change, Gaume said agricultural products such as grapes will have to adapt to harsher conditions. Through a series of space experiments, Space Cargo Unlimited hopes to learn from the stress of weightless plants and turn them into healthier and more resilient plants on Earth.
There is another benefit. Gom expects future explorers of the moon and Mars to want to enjoy some of the pleasures of Earth. “As a Frenchman, it’s good to have good food and good wine,” he told the Associated Press.
Gaume said private investors had helped fund the experiments. He declined to provide the project costs.
The wine reached the space station in November 2019 aboard the supply ship Northrop Grumman. 320 vine cuttings from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, called canes in the viticulture business, were launched by SpaceX in March last year.